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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "A Year and a Day"

A Year and a Day

No, she could not believe that. And so, at last, she came to her grandmother to ask if she could explain it to her.

"No," the old woman said, "I can't do that. It's too wonderful for any of us to understand. But it's no more wonderful than many things that are true, and I've heard tales of it before. Often one stays in the land of the Good People, and in other places, too, and thinks that the time has been short, when it has been long. Shall I tell you what happened once to a monk—a holy man—much more wonderful than what happened to you?

"One day this monk was in the garden of the monastery where he lived, reading in his book. He was reading in the Psalms, where it says, 'For a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past. And as a watch in the night, things that are counted nothing, shall their years be.'

"And he found it hard to believe that even to God Himself a thousand years could seem no more than a day. As he was thinking of this, a bird in a tree near him began to sing, and the song was so beautiful that he forgot the psalm that he had been reading and his thoughts about it, and only listened to the bird. It seemed to him that in all his life he had never heard any music so beautiful.

"But soon the bird flew to another tree, farther from the monastery, and the monk followed, to listen to its song again. Then the bird flew to a tree farther off, and still the monk followed. Once more the bird flew to another tree, and once more the monk followed it, for it seemed to him that as long as that bird sang he could listen to nothing else and could think of nothing else. But he saw that the sun had gone down and he knew that it was time for him to go back to the monastery. As he went back he looked at the colors that the sun had left behind it in the sky, and he thought that they were as beautiful to see as the voice of the bird was to hear.

"They were all faded and the darkness had come on when he reached the monastery and went in. And if he had wondered at the song of the bird and at the colors in the sky, he wondered yet more when he found himself again in the place where he had lived for many years.

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